St. Isaac's Cathedral

#3 in Best Things To Do in St. Petersburg
St. Isaac's Cathedral picture
tore_urnes/Flickr

Key Info

Isaakiyevskaya Ploshchad

Details

Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.6scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

The construction of St. Isaac's Cathedral was ordered by Alexander I in the early 1800s. This neoclassical marvel was finally completed in 1858 after 40 years of construction. St. Isaac's has an interesting history: it survived Nazi shelling in World War II and even briefly served as a museum of atheism under the Soviet regime.

St. Isaac's Cathedral possesses an imposing exterior presence with its single massive dome, but you'll also want to check out its opulent interior, which Frommer's calls "as awesome as its exterior, with columns made of single chunks of granite, malachite, and lazurite; floors of different-colored marble; and never-ending frescoes."

The cathedral is located in the Admiralteisky district of city center and is accessible from the Sennaya Ploshchad and Nevsky Prospekt metro stations. Admission will set you back around $10 USD (300 rubles). If you want to go up the colonnade for views of St. Petersburg, be prepared to climb a ton of steps and to pony up extra $5 USD (150 rubles). You can visit from Thursday through Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. October through April.

  • Tickets, which can be bought at the kassa outside, are sold both to the church ('the museum') and to the outer colonnade; the latter affords an excellent view of the city." -- Fodor's
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Type
Time to Spend
#1 Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace

Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage Museum in 1764 as a place to house her private art collection. The massive complex has six buildings, including the Winter Palace, which was the home of the Tsars for almost 200 years. It finally opened to the public in 1852, and since then has been one of the largest and most interesting museums on the globe. It draws more than two million visitors each year -- in fact, this museum is the main reason some travelers visit St. Petersburg in the first place. Recent travelers are full of praise, with one TripAdvisor user claiming, "This place makes other museums look unimportant."

Bursting at the seams with art from masters like Da Vinci and Picasso, the Hermitage is "virtually wallpapered with celebrated paintings," says Fodor's, who goes on to suggest you budget a substantial amount of time to explore. "It has been estimated that in order to spend one minute on each object on display, you would have to devote several years to the museum," they write.

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